10 Children’s and YA Books about Sung & Unsung Latin@ Heroes

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Hello all!

In case you missed Keira’s Sobre Enero post, this month’s theme honors the many individuals, real or imagined, who populate the rich landscape of Latin@ literature for children and young adults.  This month’s Reading Roundup brings together a few of these heroes, both sung and unsung, whose actions inspired positive change.  While it is a monumental task to choose just a few of the many wonderful books that are out there, I’ve narrowed down the list to books that will encourage our students and children to honor their own truths. I also hope that these books will help expand the literary canon beyond those heroes whose stories are taught repeatedly. The books below encompass a diverse panorama of experiences, accomplishments, and outcomes.  To name a few, these remarkable figures displayed their passion through art, literature, activism, and even by simply passing on their knowledge to new generations.   May you enjoy these works as much as I enjoyed finding them!

Happy New Year!

Abrazos,
Colleen

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¡Mira Look!: Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

portraitsSaludos todos! Our book for this week is Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, written by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Raúl Colón (the same illustrator from last week’s book, Tomás and the Library Lady). Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes won the Pura Belpré Honor Book award for narrative in 2015, and perfectly embodies this month’s endeavor of honoring exceptional Latinos in children’s literature, as well as in society as a whole.

Each chapter of this wonderful compilation of portraits narrates the life and work of a Latinx hero, ranging from iconic activists such as Dolores Huerta and César Chávez, to trail-blazing intellectuals such as Sonia Sotomayor and Tomás Rivera, to some of my own personal idols, such as contemporary singer Joan Baez and 1920s author Julia de Burgos.

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¡Mira, Look!: Tomás and the Library Lady

tomas-and-the-library-ladySaludos todos! Our book for this week is Tomás and the Library Lady, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Raúl Colón. Although last week we focused on Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian at the New York City Public Library, this week we are focusing on the legacy of Tomás Rivera, another symbol of Latin American literature and Hispanic-American heritage. Like Belpré, Rivera loved literature and pioneered outreach projects to the Hispanic-American community. As an author, poet and professor, he was beloved for his enthusiasm and his passion for teaching, learning, and books. While we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the many sensational figures associated with that legacy, we are turning our attention this week to another exceptional figure.

Some of you may recognize Tomás Rivera’s name from one of my earlier posts featuring the 2016 Tomás Rivera Award recipients. The award, which is bestowed in memory of Rivera and his love for literature, honors exceptional Latinx children’s and young adult books. In line with many of the values now symbolized by Rivera’s legacy, this story shows the intercultural and intergenerational power of literature, as well as the timeless beauty of a shared culture.

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